This action comedy from Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright is a little too long (seriously, which comedy from the last few years isn’t overlong?), but the enormously entertaining finale and the winning buddy chemistry between Pegg and Nick Frost more than make up for its flaws.
Pegg plays Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a humourless and fiercely dedicated London cop, who gets transferred to the tiny sleepy town of Sandford after his superiors decide that his preternatural excellence makes the rest of the force look bad. There he gets partnered with PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a genial and laidback slob whose dad Frank (Jim Broadbent) heads the local police. A massive fan of American action movies like Point Break and Bad Boys II, Danny is all giddy with puppyish excitement about Angel’s big-city experience. Did he ever fire a gun while jumping sideways through the air??
Sandford is the kind of idyllic manicured village where everybody knows everybody else and policing consists of such unforgettable events as shooing minors out of the pub or looking for missing swans. Everyone takes a relaxed approach and would just rather concentrate on winning the Best Village title for the umpteenth time in a row. But soon after Angel’s arrival, a series of grisly deaths that everyone else assumes to be accidents finally gives him something to investigate. His chief suspect is Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), the owner of the local supermarket, who looks like the kind of moustache-twirling villain that cackles over his evil plans in his secret evil lair while stroking a white Persian cat.
Hot Fuzz takes its sweet time developing its story, and while the first two thirds do serve regular laughs and visual gags, as well as appearances by countless British film and TV actors (Bill Nighy, Olivia Colman and Bill Bailey among others), it took a while for the movie to really click with me. There were a few times during mid-section when I felt that the story kinda dragged, while at the same time Wright’s trademark frenetic editing was getting a tad exhausting. The growing bromance between uptight no-fun Angel and easy-going Danny does a lot to sweeten the deal; Pegg and Frost have such a natural and comfortable chemistry and they’re wonderful to watch together.
At a certain climactic point, Hot Fuzz takes a sharp turn into the territory that’s vaguely reminiscent of The Wicker Man, and after that all hell breaks loose in an action-packed extravaganza that trots out just about every Hollywood action movie cliché. This loving skewering of American action through a distinctly British lens makes for one hell of an exciting and funny finale and elevates the movie as a whole. Though overall Hot Fuzz is not as inventive or hilarious as Shaun of the Dead, Pegg and Wright’s previous effort, there’s a lot to say for a strong finish to a film.